Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the latest entry in the series of giant robot action blockbusters, is currently slated to release on June 9, 2023, after being delayed from its initial June 2022 release date. The film will serve as a continuation of the 2018 Bumblebee reboot, rather than follow the original Michael Bay continuity — and indeed, Rise of the Beasts is offering a change of pace for the film series in more ways than one.
The upcoming movie, directed by Steven Caple Jr. of Creed II fame, will feature the return of Bumblebee, now accompanied by his Autobot allies Arcee, Wheeljack, and Mirage — and of course, Optimus Prime, with original voice actor Peter Cullen reprising his role once again. However, rather than focusing on the Autobot-Decepticon war, Rise of the Beasts will feature three new factions: the Maximals and Predacons, best known from the beloved Beast Wars cartoon, along with another villain faction called the Terrorcons. Plenty of fan favorite characters have been confirmed, from Maximal leader Optimus Primal (voiced by Ron Perlman of Hellboy fame) to the Terrorcon leader Scourge, but there’s still room for more familiar faces who would be a delight to see on the big screen.
Out of all the memorable characters from the original Beast Wars cartoon, there’s perhaps none so fondly remembered by fans as Dinobot. The term “Dinobot” originated in the 80s series as the name of an Autobot faction led by the Cybertronian T-Rex Grimlock, who moviegoers might remember from Age of Extinction. However, the Dinobot of Beast Wars isn’t a group, but an individual — and one with much more depth than you’d expect from a character in a kids’ show.
Dinobot began the series as a member of the villainous Predacons, albeit one driven by a warrior’s code of honor rather than a maniacal hunger for power. However, Dinobot quickly turns against his leader Megatron and ends up joining the heroic Maximals, albeit out of convenience. Dinobot’s alliance with the Maximals is a reluctant one, with plenty of butting heads and clashing egos. But over time, Dinobot’s cold exterior softens, and he begins to think of his unlikely allies as true friends.
Dinobot’s redemption arc culminates in the episode “Code of Hero,” widely considered to be the greatest moment in all of Beast Wars, in which a lone Dinobot sacrifices his life to stop Megatron’s master plan. While Dinobot’s character arc is much too complex and in-depth to be properly replicated in a single movie in which he’d only be a minor character, it’d still be fantastic to see this robotic velociraptor on the big screen.
Another member of the original Beast Wars cast, Rattrap isn’t exactly complex or intimidating — he’s a snarky wise-guy Maximal with a Brooklyn accent who turns into a giant rat. Needless to say, he isn’t there to provide hard-hitting character development like Dinobot. Rattrap is a comic relief character first and foremost, but he’s still a beloved member of the Maximals, and it’d be a shame to see him left out of the crew in their live-action debut.
The apparent main villain of Rise of the Beasts is Scourge, a familiar character who’s been recast as the leader of the Terrorcon faction. Due to his truck alt-mode, it seems that the live-action Scourge will be taking some inspiration from his counterpart in the 2001 Robots in Disguise anime, who was a Decepticon doppelganger of Optimus Prime. But in the original cartoon series, the name “Scourge” belonged to a very different character, whose partner in crime Cyclonus has become a favorite among die-hard fans.
Cyclonus and Scourge first debuted in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie, in which they were created by Unicron as upgraded forms of Starscream’s Seeker lieutenants Skywarp and Thundercracker. The cartoon Cyclonus was a loyal, cunning second in command to his unhinged master Galvatron (aka the reborn Megatron), in a twisted inversion of the old Megatron-Starscream dynamic. However, the most popular take on Cyclonus is likely the one found in the 2012 More Than Meets The Eye comic from IDW Publishing.
Under the pen of writer James Roberts, Cyclonus is not a ruthless Decepticon, but rather a stoic, pious swordsman with a kind spark underneath his cold exterior. Despite appearing distant and even callous at first, Cyclonus lowers his guard over time, eventually becoming a true friend to his crewmates on the Lost Light starship — he even forms a romantic bond with the cheerful, compassionate Tailgate. Once again, the character arc of MTMTE Cyclonus is much too intricate to be adapted in a single film. But with such a beloved character, it’d be nice to see Cyclonus and Scourge appear together on the big screen once again after almost 40 years.
Another Beast Wars character who isn’t particularly complex, but is near and dear to the hearts of countless fans nevertheless. Waspinator was the perennial punching bag of the series, a dimwitted Predacon henchman who was cursed with bad luck, always getting smashed or blown up in some darkly comical way.
Despite being a villain, Waspinator’s pitiful nature combined with his delusions of grandeur endeared him to fans of the series, making him one of Beast Wars’ most memorable characters. His popularity even saw his return in the 2007 Transformers Animated series, in which he was reimagined as a deranged yet tragic monster: part Gollum, part Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Waspinator is the perfect bad guy to bring back in a minor role for Rise of the Beasts — after all, a little Waspinator goes a long way.
After the more character-driven, small-scale tone of Bumblebee, Rise of the Beasts seems to be a return to the series’ epic blockbuster roots, and every over-the-top action flick needs a big climactic setpiece to blow audiences’ minds. And for a movie featuring the Predacons as antagonists, there’s no better candidate for the center of that setpiece than the colossal king of beasts, Predaking.
Predaking first appeared in Season 3 of the 80s cartoon as the combined form of the original Predacon team, which bears little resemblance to the later Predacons of Beast Wars. Decades later, a new Predaking was introduced in the 2010 Transformers: Prime cartoon — this time, a single Predacon who transformed into a giant fire-breathing dragon. This Predaking served as a major antagonist in Season 3 of Prime, and could easily be adapted into an imposing foe for the live-action Autobots and Maximals.
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